by Margie Burns
American Reporter Correspondent
July 6, 2009
PALIN'S NOT A PROBE TARGET, U.S. ATTY. IN ALASKA SAYS
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 6, 2009; 8:45PM EDT -- The office of U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler in Alaska today backed up the FBI in denying that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is under federal investigation.
A spokeswoman declined to comment for media beyond confirming a statement by the FBI in Alaska, issued Saturday, that "There is absolutely no truth to those rumors that we're investigating [Palin] or getting ready to indict her," and that the statement left "no wiggle room" to imply an investigation of any kind.
The statement follows controversy not only over Gov. Palin's surprise resignation, effective July 26, with eighteen months remaining in her first term, but also over widespread speculation, fueled by an Alaska blogger, that the resignation signaled a hidden financial scandal.
Palin announced her resignation at a press conference Friday, July 3. Friday evening, several Websites suggested that the resignation was linked to a rumored federal investigation of Palin in connection with the construction of a sports complex in Wasilla, Alaska, a community of 7,000 where Palin was mayor from 1996 to 2002. Palin had pushed for construction of the complex as mayor.
The Los Angeles Times reported the FBI denial on Sunday.
The Daily Beast, a media-oriented online publication founded by Tina Brown - the former editor of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker who also ran Clay Felker's short-lived Talk magazine - ran an account Friday titled "Did a Scandal Sink the U.S.S. Palin?"
The article, by documentary filmmaker and writer Max Blumenthal, opens by suggesting a "question about whether Palin is leaving to avert a major scandal." The same speculation was splashed across tv screens around the world.
"One logical place to start looking," the Blumental article continues, "is the affair that has Alaska political circles buzzing: an alleged scandal centered around a building contractor, Spenard Building Supplies, with close ties to Palin and her husband, Todd."
Friday afternoon, the reported rumor had developed by email into mass mailings that said Palin was being investigated by federal authorities in Alaska for embezzlement.
Palin attorney Thomas V. Van Flein http://conservatives4palin.googlegroups.com/web/Press%20Release%20July%204,%202009.pdf?? gda=8nhBWWQAAACPgrsFYYeNCJc2VCWrdAoAPjwoOTKeu6rC_TutLoZcAuaGK7jOueLbx0WqwyEcuCyKH9HyOblH0ode8uf5149nvUuk5dtM- pra9GqaEPCiOFXq71KIRN2DRDZ98DIdT53NzgFmQudIVZfn2evkHEao&h">issued a four-page statement on July 4, discussing the history of the Wasilla Sports Complex and calling the published rumors "false and defamatory allegations."
Van Flein also said, "To the extent several websites, most notably liberal Alaska blogger Shannyn Moore, are now claiming as 'fact' that Governor Palin resigned because she is 'under federal investigation' for embezzlement or other criminal wrongdoing, we will be exploring legal options this week to address such defamation."
The statement adds, "This is to provide notice to Ms. Moore, and those who re-publish the defamation, such as Huffington Post, MSNBC, the New York Times and The Washington Post, that the Palins will not allow them to propagate defamatory material without answering to this in a court of law."
The New York Times has not responded to emailed request for comment. The Washington Post ran a short item on Van Flein's statement Monday without mentioning the Posts inclusion in the attorney's statement.
Moore blogs for the progressive Huffington Post Web site, and responded defiantly, as have Web sites including Daily Kos. Other publishers have backpedaled on the purported investigation.
The journalistic principle of "fair comment and criticism" allows the expression of opinion, identified as such, but specifies that a writer should not imply that the opinion is based on undisclosed damaging information.
Palin announced in May that she has a contract with HarperCollins to write a book about her sudden appearance on the national political scene, and numerous political analysts have said she would have audience drawing power on the speakers' circuit.
She has incurred legal bills from defending ethics investigations in Alaska including "Troopergate," for which Van Flein also is her attorney.